Small Marine Protected Areas in Fiji provide refuge for reef fish assemblages, feeding groups, and corals

Bonaldo, Roberta M., Pires, Mathias M., Guimaraes, Paulo Roberto, Hoey, Andrew S., and Hay, Mark E. (2017) Small Marine Protected Areas in Fiji provide refuge for reef fish assemblages, feeding groups, and corals. PLoS One, 12 (1). e017063.

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Abstract

The establishment of no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) on coral reefs is a common management strategy for conserving the diversity, abundance, and biomass of reef organisms. Generally, well-managed and enforced MPAs can increase or maintain the diversity and function of the enclosed coral reef, with some of the benefits extending to adjacent nonprotected reefs. A fundamental question in coral reef conservation is whether these benefits arise within small MPAs (< 1 km(2)), because larval input of reef organisms is largely decoupled from local adult reproduction. We examined the structure of fish assemblages, composition of fish feeding groups, benthic cover, and key ecosystem processes (grazing, macroalgal browsing, and coral replenishment) in three small (0.5-0.8 km(2)) no-take MPAs and adjacent areas where fisheries are allowed (non-MPAs) on coral reefs in Fiji. The MPAs exhibited greater species richness, density, and biomass of fishes than non-MPAs. Furthermore, MPAs contained a greater abundance and biomass of grazing herbivores and piscivores as well as a greater abundance of cleaners than fished areas. We also found differences in fish associations when foraging, with feeding groups being generally more diverse and having greater biomass within MPAs than adjacent non-MPAs. Grazing by parrotfishes was 3-6 times greater, and macroalgal browsing was 3-5 times greater in MPAs than in non-MPAs. On average, MPAs had 260-280% as much coral cover and only 5-25% as much macroalgal cover as their paired non-MPA sites. Finally, two of the three MPAs had three-fold more coral recruits than adjacent non-MPAs. The results of this study indicate that small MPAs benefit not only populations of reef fishes, but also enhance ecosystem processes that are critical to reef resilience within the MPAs.

Item ID: 50286
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information:

© 2017 Bonaldo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Health (NIH), USA, Teasley Endowment, FAPESP Brazil
Projects and Grants: NSF grant OCE-0929119, NIH grant U01-TW007401, FAPESP grant 2012/24432-4, FAPESP grant 2009/54567-6, FAPESP grant 2009/54422-8
Research Data: https://www.bco-dmo.org/project/480717
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 07:34
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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